A letter from George to grandson Kendall 

Vermillion, S.D.

November 1, 1987


...What i'm about to do now could mean boredom for you.  If it is just toss it in the closet waste basket.  But you might enjoy a vicarious trip or two with me on some of my hunts.

To start with we will skip the “once upon a time” and take a step back into 1921.  That was the year I was 12 years old.  Also the year we moved from the farm one and a half miles north east of Okobojo, to Okobojo.  We moved into the house that my grandpa and grandma Glessner had owned and lived in.  One of the reasons for moving was to get my mother closer to the printing office where she worked part of her time to get the paper (Okobojo Times) out on every Thursday.  When we moved off the farm a young couple by the name of Coleman moved on and looked after some of the cows and horses for a while.  Also in 1921 my dad ran for the State Legislature as a representative from Sully County.

One nice sunshiny day when we had about six inches of snow cover I thought I would like to go rabbit hunting.  I had a .22 rifle and .22 shells were plentiful and cheap.  15 cents for 50 shells.  I started out before noon and hunted the hills and draws.  I would let the rabbit get up and run then try to hit him.  The rifle was a single shot so I didn’t hit many.  Never was a good shot at something on the run.

I was having such a good time that it was long past noon before I realized it.  I wasn’t far from the old farmhouse and I guess It must have drawn me like a magnet and before I knew it I was knocking on the kitchen door.  Mrs. Coleman opened the door and invited me in.

When I stepped into that warm kitchen my nostrils told me there was fresh baked bread somewhere and a pot of something good simmering on the old cook stove.  In the true tradition of the old west Mrs. Coleman asked if I had eaten.  She knew that I hadn’t’ and she knew that I knew that she knew that I hadn’t.   Within a short time there was a place set for me at the kitchen table with fresh home made bred, home churned butter, a glass of home made jelly and a big bowl of navy beans with generous chunks of home cured ham mixed in.

When my energy was restored and (should probably write this with raised eyebrow or tongue in cheek) my gas tank refilled I thanked Mrs. Coleman, picked up my rifle and started for Okobojo – it had been a wonderful day.  I had learned that hunting and good meals go together.

In 1922 my dad had a stroke in early summer and died on December 7.  I don’t remember doing much hunting.  But in 1923 when the duck season opened I was ready to go.  I would get up at day break, pick up the old Stevens shot gun (Bill has it now) and head up the creek on a fast walk or trot.  Suppose it would be equal to some of your morning jogging.

It would take about a mile to check the water holes.  Sometimes I would be lucky and get some ducks.  Some times not. When I got home I ate breakfast and then went to school.  If I had birds would try to clean them before school.

In 1924 Ma sold the Printing office and we moved to Huron.  I didn’t hunt any that fall.  Sure made up for it in 25 & 26.  Pheasants were plentiful around Huron and when in season we had plenty of them to eat.  One nice thing about hunting then if I broke a birds wing I could run him down and catch him.  In those years the season opened in the morning and lasted till sunset.  Seven birds where the limit and three could be hens.

In 1927 we moved back to Okobojo.  The pheasants had migrated west as far as the Missouri river.  As the pheasants came in the Prairie chickens and grouse moved out.  We had good hunting for pheasants all through the 30’s.

Did some goose and duck hunting.  Got plenty of ducks but the geese just didn’t want to cooperate.   This would be a typical day:

Get up at 4 o’clock in the morning.  Build a quick wood fire in the cookstove.  Boil some coffee and fry a couple eggs with bacon.  Go out in the frosty air and start the old Jalopy and drive over to my friends house.  He would have the spade, shovel and decoys already in his car and we would take off for the field where we had seen geese the night before.  When we got there we would dig pits just big enough to sit in and then put out the decoys.  By then day would be breaking and we would start watching the river hills to the west.  As I said the geese were not very cooperative.  Most of our goose hunts were dry runs but we generally got some ducks. 

In 1942 we moved to Houghton where I managed the Peavey elevator.  Haughton is right “smack” in the Sand Lake hunting area for geese and ducks.

One afternoon when a light snow was falling Hazel's brother Robert and I went duck hunting.  We got in a corn field and had some good shooting.   Robert got more birds than I did but we had enough to keep the families eating for a long time.

 In the summer of 1942 Peavey sold the Houghton elevator and moved me to Broadland.  Would like to have stayed at Houghton but it didn’t work out that way.  Had a lot of good hunting around Broadland too.

I think one of the hunts was a “red letter” day for Bill.  He was seven or eight years old by then and had gone with me lots of time when I hunted but had never carried a gun.

Walt Lytle, my boss, was getting up a week-end hunt for some of the “brass” out of Minneapolis.  Namely Peavey Heffelfinger, who was part owner of Peavey Co. and Leo Carlin who was general manager of our division. 

Lytle didn’t have enough walkers to flush the birds so he said if Bill wanted to go and walk he could.  Bill had been taught how to handle a gun.  When the time came to hunt, Lytle handed Bill a 410 shotgun.  Smallest of the shot guns made.  Bill was in ecstasy.  I don’t know if the gun was loaded or not.  He didn’t have a license but we hunted with out incident.  We ate supper at Wessington.  Most of us ordered steak but Bill ate hamburger and anything else he wished to eat or drink.  Peavey was quite a cut-up.  He and Leo sat in different booths and when Leo wasn’t watching Peavey slipped over and stole Leo’s onions.  They had quiet a “war” for a while and every one in the restaurant enjoyed it.  It had been a gala of a day and when Bill and I got home we were both tired but happy.

                               -- And now the Grand Finale –

On the first of March 1952 we moved to Redfield where I was to manage PV’s elevator.  Bill was almost ready for high school and the thought of hot running water and a bath tub was very enticing. 

That summer I met Wesley Booze, He was a farmer who lived 81/2 miles south west of Redfield.  He is 12 years younger than I but it didn’t seem to matter.  We became good friends as well as hunting pals.  We hunted everything from gophers to west river deer and the prong horned antelope. 

The man who owned the farm Wesley was on had a friend who came out from Minneapolis to hunt.  Wesley entrusted him to hunt with us.  I don’t remember his name but he always had a cigar in his mouth so Wesley referred to him as “cigar smoke”. 

Next year arrangements had been made with Wesley by some doctors in Minneapolis to hunt with us.  They proved to be a good group and at least one doctor has kept coming year after year.

After the hunt was over I always ate supper with the gang.  I like bread & gravy and would always finish the meal with gravy on a slice of bread.  Got some good natured kidding for it.  In 1965 we moved to Gettysburg where I worked at the elevator and grandma taught school.

I generally went back to Redfield for at least one day’s hunt and Wesley would come to the “Berg and we would hunt grouse west of the River.  I was retired in ’73 and grandma taught four more years then we moved back to Redfield.  Rented a big old house and suffered (not really) through a couple winters.  Jeanette was working at Harry’s station packing eggs and she and the girls lived in the old house. 

Jeanette wanted to finish her college education so on June 1st 1979 we moved to Vermillion and she took on the USD. 

That was the same year that the Kent Millards moved from Rapid City to Huron.  Also the year that I rounded my 3 score & 10 and started reaching for that big 80. 

Didn’t go hunting around Vermillion.  To much corn and soybeans.  Could have joined a club of duck hunters for a hundred bucks but didn’t.

I went back to Redfield a time or two and then skipped some. 

One fall your dad mentioned that he would like to spend a day hunting pheasants.  That sounded “Jake” to me so we set a date to go. We would hunt Saturday and I would go to Redfield the next day and hunt with Wesley and the group.   

Your dad and I had our hunt.  As you probably still remember we got nothing but a very plesant after noon.  Me visiting with old friends and your dad with new.  The afternoon together had been fun.  

Next morning after breakfast I started for Redfield, stopped at the Huron bakery and bought 3 dozen raised donuts to add to the lunch of for the cook to use any way she saw fit.  

When I got to Wesley's I exchanged to donuts for a cup of coffee and visited with a couple of the Mpls. guys. 

We say a car drive up and went out to see who was in it.  Four of five "limber legs" got out.  Now what I call a limber leg is a person between 14 and 40 who can still walk and run.

It was getting on towards 12 O'clock which was opening hour.

A couple of the limber-legs came out with the lunch and put it in the pick-up.  Wesley said "lets go" and three of us older guys got in the old station wagon with him and we were off.  The L-L's got in the pickup and went to the opposite end of the corn field that we were going to.  We were the blockers.  They were to chase the cirds our way as they walked.  I saw a bird head toward the zenith then fold.  One quarter second later I heard the bang.  We could se the L-L's heads bob up and down as they zig-zagged through the field.

A big old cock pheasant burst from the corn and headed north west, then changed his mind and turned to com eby me.  The old shot gun seemed to weigh about 6lbs. more than it should but I got it to my shoulder swung on the old rascal and pulled the trigger.  A clean miss.  Just a moment before the old rooster set his wings to a glide into another field.  I heard him giber me the old raspberry cackle.  Oh well I had missed before. 

We hunted one more field and then pulled up beside one of the Wesley's hay stacks to eat lunch.  Then we hunted two more fields and started for home base to clean the pheasants.

Wesley has fixed it pretty nice for this nasty job.  He has a table about 12 feet long and two feet high with planks on both sides for the hunters to sit on while skinning and gutting.  Then there another table, regular height, for two persons to stand and wash the birds in pails of water after they are skinned and drawn.  Then one person takes the finished bird and puts it in a plastic bag puts on a tie and it is ready for the freezer.

After the mess is all cleaned up it is almost sundown.

About 6:30 we went in for the usual good supper. Conversation was mostly a re-run of the day's hunt.

I finally took my fork and stabbed a  slice of bread and reached for the gravy bowl.  A low chuckle seemed to go around the table and some one said "George is having dessert"

It was time to go home.  I thanked Inez for the good supper and Wesley walked to the car with me.  He put two birds on the floor of the back seat.  I said "I didn't earn any birds today." He said "Yes you did"  We said so long and I drove out of the yard.  After coming to a full stop I turned last on highway 26. 

About 3 hands high above the horizon a big full moon was bathing the highway and surrounding area with a soft light that surely added a little extra touch of autumn.

Even the 98 responded the the crisp night air and wanted to scamper.

In a short time I was back in Huron and turning off of McDonald drive and on to the Millard driveway.  

Honey-Pup was barking so I didn't stay long in the car.  I took one of the birds in and put it in the refrigerator.  Then told old Honey-Pup what I had been doing all day and he seemed satisfied. 

I liked that house on McDonald drive.  But I guess it was, or at least seemed to be somewhat to big and clumsy at times.  Your dad was on the road most of the time with his job of superintendent.  Well we visited a while and I have a short review of the days hunt and by then it was time for bed.  While I was undressing for bed I felt a twinge in a muscle that hadn't been used for some time.  Part of the days hunt I said and rolled into the warm clean bed.  I turned out the light and stared up into the blackness.   My mind soon took me back to a favorite poet.  The old Hoosier poet Jim W. Riley who wrote:

    Long life's a lovely thing to know

        with lovely name and fame foresooth,

    with lovely health and wealth

         But oh, the loveliness of youth.

                                             Love you Kendall,

                                     Hope you are still awake.

                                                                Grandpa Green